Trees in neighborhoods and near homes, also known as the urban forest, are just as prone to invasive species as trees in rural and forested areas.
Homeowners can help biologists track invasive pests by reporting insects that may be lurking in their backyard. Often times, invasive insects are spotted by the homeowner before a biologist is even alerted to the presence of an invasive species or able to catch one in a trap.
The state is asking homeowners to keep their eyes open for the emerald ash borer, spotted lantern fly, and the citrus longhorned beetle — though none are currently active in Washington right now.
Since 1990, at least 70 new insect species have been detected in Washington, according to a state study. The public reported 36 percent of these new insects — which is more than formal surveys and regulatory agencies’ efforts. With the intention of increasing public reporting, the Washington Invasive Species Council has set up an online portal for bug reports. The council hopes that the sooner the bugs are spotted, the sooner they can be taken care of.
This is the case of the citrus longhorned beetle that was found in Tukwila in 2001, but was successfully eradicated due to early detection.
Early indications of invasive insect damage can include sudden dieback, death among otherwise healthy trees, sawdust, or exit holes. Experts also suggest that all pool owners check their filters and pool skimmers for invasive bugs that may be trapped. Developing insects often end up as collected debris in pool filters.
“Researchers and scientists are surveying for these species statewide, but we need the public’s help. By taking a few minutes of your time, you could help the state prevent and control the spread of invasive species, which pose a $1.3 billion threat to Washington’s economy every year and put our environment and human health at risk,” invasive species council executive coordinator Justin Bush said in a statement.
Residents who think they may have spotted signs of invasive species or the insects themselves, should take photographs and report the find as soon as possible to https://invasivespecies.wa.gov/report.shtml. If you’re unsure what the insect might be, check out the council’s website and their photos of potentially dangerous bugs.